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How to Delegate Tasks Effectively

Learn How to Delegate Using 2 Simple Questions

Effective Delegation Leads to Growth for Your Employees and You

As a manager, you’re often told of the value of using delegation to develop others. Effective delegation can help you focus on the tasks where you’re most needed, and it can help scale your business in accordance with your goals. In fact, CEOs who know how to delegate generate 33% more revenue than CEOs who lack delegation skills. Assigning tasks, including long-term tasks, to employees can also instill company loyalty as those employees “invest their position in the success of the company.” This is especially true for managers who have trouble retaining talent.

Still, the question remains: Who do you delegate certain tasks to, and how do you best supervise them once you delegate?

It may sound like a complex question to answer, but in reality, you can identify who you need to delegate tasks to based on two questions:

A 3-Step Delegation Guide

Step 1: Answer Two Questions, Based On A Scale of 2 = Excellent, 1 = Intermediate and 0 = Poor or Non-Existent:

How competent are they in the skills needed? _____ (0-2)

How interested are they in the task at hand? _____ (0-2)

Step 2: Add The Resulting Scores Together _____

Step 3: Interpret Your Score

0: Find someone else to do the job.

1: Tell them exactly what to do and supervise as they do it.

2: Create a detailed plan with them and have them execute it.

3: Have them create a detailed plan and review it before they start.

4: Give them an end goal and tell them to ask you for help if they need it.

If someone scores a 4, they’re highly competent and highly interested in the project, in which case you can likely give it to them and get out of their way. But, if they score much lower on that scale, such as a 2, you may have to be clearer about what you want and stay in touch with them more.

Can Using Delegation to Develop Others be Problematic?

Using delegation to develop others can become a problem if you hire the wrong people or if you have very competent people who have little interest or expertise in the project.

When you give someone a project, how close you stay to them throughout the process begins with their interest in the project and their competence in the skills required. For example, if an employee is highly interested but doesn’t have the skills, you’re going to have to stay closer to them than if they have all the skills and are highly committed to the project.

You must evaluate their competency, level of expertise and interest in the project. Their score on the test above may call for you to be more of a mentor, or it could enable you to completely delegate to them. One path is very hands-on, while the other is very hands-off. No matter what, you’re responsible for the outcome. This method is called “situational leadership.”

But remember, delegating tasks does not free up time to grow your business if you are micromanaging. Alfredo Atanacio, Founder of UassistME.CO, an online platform that provides virtual assistant services, tells Forbes:

“Delegation is different from micromanaging, and it is imperative to understand this distinction. A good delegator provides essential information with detailed and precise instructions, but does not micromanage. Your goal must be to convey the results you are seeking but not to delegate the methods. When you micromanage, you are only binding your team to your ideas and not giving them a platform to brainstorm their own.”

What If They Score a 4? Does That Mean “Hands-Off”?

Not quite. Tempted as some managers may be to look upon an employee with high competence and high interest to take on the project and say, “They can just go off and do it all from here,” that doesn’t absolve you of responsibility.

One of the biggest pitfalls of using delegation to develop others happens when managers believe that it allows them to largely wash their hands of the project. Not true. Interest and competence still require a solid, detailed plan with clear direction and an end goal.

If those elements are absent, you could have a highly skilled and passionate person who still isn’t aligned with you.

How to Delegate to Yourself

You don’t have to use the three-step delegation guide given above on others alone. You can also apply its questions of competence and interest to yourself when you’re not sure if you have the skill set or passion for a particular task. How do you score? Should you delegate or keep the project?

Before you answer, remember another influential factor: Time (as in how much you have and where it is best spent).

Nobody to Delegate Tasks to?

When you’re new to the organization (and less familiar with everyone’s skill set), or you’re within a very lean organization, it’s possible that delegating tasks won’t be an option. In that instance, don’t automatically assume that you have to take on all tasks.

Instead, take a deeper look at the tasks themselves and ask, “Are all of these necessary to be done?” If the answer is “No,” then get rid of the ones that aren’t necessary to focus on right now.

What remains are the tasks and projects that must be done. If you don’t have the manpower to do it, then outsourcing may be a good option. If you believe you can’t afford to outsource it, then go back to square one and ask how necessary are the tasks to be done.

If the answer is still that they have to be done, then your only answer is to work more time and hours. But more often than not, if you evaluate your list closely enough, you’ll find there are tasks that can come off your highest priority list.

Remember, the biggest barrier to applying effective delegation is a leader who constantly says, “I’ll just do it myself.” When you do it yourself, over and over again, you limit your opportunities to potentially scale as a company while minimizing your own productivity and efficiency.

IT Management Consultant and Leadership Coach, Bob Kantor, states, “If you still see too much risk in delegating such work, consider this: Your time and energy as a manager are better spent mentoring your employees to succeed at new tasks and to acquire new skills than in doing such work yourself.” Perhaps it is best to think of delegation not as a baton to be handed off, but rather as an opportunity for mentorship and team development.

[Editor’s Note: To learn more about this and related topics, you may want to attend the following webinars: Protecting Your Employee Assets: The Life Cycle of the Employment Relationship and What Every Founder/Entrepreneur Must Know. This is an updated version of an article originally published on May 17, 2018.]

©All Rights Reserved. November, 2020.  DailyDACTM, LLC d/b/a/ Financial PoiseTM

About Lee Eisenstaedt

Lee Eisenstaedt brings more than 35 years of diverse leadership, finance and operations experience to the clients of the Leading With Courage® Academy. The CFO of SC Johnson has described Lee as a well-rounded businessman because he’s “…worked for more than two companies, in more than two functions, in more than two countries.” Lee focuses…

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